14 June 2017, The Tablet

European Court delays decision on ending terminally-ill Charlie Gard's life support

Charlie Gard has a rare genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage and doctors want to stop his life support

The European Court of Human rights has said that terminally ill baby, Charlie Gard, must be kept on life support until Monday 19 June, while judges consider the case. 

The little boy's parents want to take their son to the US for treatment. The couple took their case to the European court last week, after failing to get the backing of the UK courts.

Ten-month-old Charlie Gard has a rare genetic condition, mitochondrial depletion syndrome, that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage and doctors want to stop his life support. They say he can not see, hear, cry or swallow and is only breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, from south west London, believe their son should undergo experimental medical therapy in the United States which they hope will prolong his life. Their son has been in intensive care at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital since last October. Specialists at the hospital say the experimental treatment would not help.

Gard and Yates have raised over £1.3 million after launching a fundraising appeal to help pay for medical bills in the US.

Ahead of the ruling, the European court had told doctors at Great Ormond street to continue providing life support treatment to Charlie until midnight on Tuesday, to give judges time to examine papers filed by his parents’ lawyers.

They launched a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights last week after losing a Supreme Court appeal earlier this month, which meant they had exhausted all UK legal options.

The Supreme Court said that Charlie should not receive experimental medical treatment in the US and that “the child’s interests must prevail. “ In effect, the courts have concluded that the little boy should be allowed to “die with dignity.”

Commenting on the case in May, the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith said that although we should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life… we do, sometimes have to recognise the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs.”

PICTURE: Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who want to take their sick baby son Charlie to the US for treatment, leave the Supreme Court after a panel of three Supreme Court justices on 8 June dismissed the couple's latest challenge

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